Tafta staff cleared of abuse and theft, but residents claim it’s a cover-up
Durban - Retirement home residents are dissatisfied with the results of an eight-week internal investigation into allegations of theft, abuse, racism, intimidation and mismanagement.
Non-profit organisation Tafta, The Association for the Aged, investigated these allegations at their Langeler Towers and John Conradie House premises that houses about 600 residents.
Tafta chief executive Femada Shamam and council chairperson Wicus Jacobs spearheaded the investigation, which was concluded last week, and looked into 21 allegations with 48 people being questioned.
There were also six court cases between residents and staff that remain sub judice.
Shamam said only a single allegation had material evidence, but the staff member has since retired. Five complainants withdrew complaints.
“At the time of the investigation’s conclusion, none of the abuse or theft cases had any merit,” said Shamam.
She said staff would be retrained and residents educated on complaint procedures.
“The findings varied from issues dismissed on lacking evidence and hearsay, to misrepresentations of ‘abuse’ and ‘theft’ when they were administrative complaints such as errors on rental statements,” she said.
Shamam said resolutions had both technical and practical components with a staged implementation process.
“An example was the revision of the Donations Standard Operating Practice, which was completed. The retraining processes will take three months.”
Resident and de facto spokesperson Dan Reddy said he notified management of further issues to the toll of 50 complaints during the investigation.
“We do not support the investigation. It has solved little. From the outset, there were signs of a cover up. Witnesses were intimidated to deny and retract statements. Investigators showed no signs of discovering the truth and left the door open for perpetrators to cover their tracks,” he said.
Reddy said a person in management was repeatedly named in allegations by residents who were dismayed that no action was taken against him.
He said residents slept in fear and resorted to barring their doors to either prevent them from or alert them to any unwelcome guests.
A 75-year-old resident had her shoulder broken after an intruder entered her room while she slept. She was found the next morning unconscious by her neighbour, lying askew on the bed with her underwear lying on the floor.
The elderly woman was hospitalised for about a month, having had three operations.
“It has been hell, and I have been crying non-stop,” said the woman.
Her daughter has since written a letter demanding answers.
Shamam said they were aware of the incident and were in communication with the daughter since receiving the letter of complaint on August 28.
“The agreement was made that feedback would be provided once the investigation into the matter had been concluded.”
Another resident said the same staff member named in previous complaints opened her door around midnight, but she was fortunately awake and on the phone with her grandson.
The elderly woman said she questioned him and he alleged that somebody said she was sick and then left. She feared he had ulterior motives.
Shamam said Reddy had not followed processes when he reported his grievances.
“During the investigation, he continued making allegations, and an interim protection order was granted to the area manager Thembi Maduma as she felt harassed and abused.”
Maduma was suspended after assault charges were laid against her in July. She returned to work this week as Shamam said there was no evidence supporting her continued suspension.
Reddy was arrested on Tuesday for breaching Maduma’s court order this week, but was released on R500 bail.
Shamam said there were repeated attempts to meet Reddy. However, he refused and opted for the legal route with his complaints.
“To maintain our integrity, we co-opted independent legal counsel in the matter between ourselves and Reddy.”
Reddy alleged Tafta’s appointed ombudsman, who is a board member and partner in Tafta’s legal counsel, showed a bias towards Tafta.